UNION — Zac Knapp posted the winning time and Bayden Menton took third as the two-time defending champion Wallowa County boys cross-country team began the season at the Catherine Creek Scamper Friday, Sept, 10.

Knapp won by nearly 24 seconds over Union/Cove’s Taylor Fox, as the Outlaws’ senior turned in a time of 17:22. Menton, the only other runner to break 18 minutes, was close behind in 17:53.6.

Ian Goodrich, third for Wallowa Valley, was 13th in 19:38.6.

The three were the top Outlaw runners in the fastest flight of two boys races, and took second as a team in the race with 14 points, just behind Union/Cove with 11 points.

In the second flight, Chase Homan was eighth in 20:48.2, and Weston Wolfe was ninth in 20:50.8. Andrew Hurley was 16th in 21:43.6, and Andrew Nordtvedt was 19th in 21:46.5.

Wallowa Valley’s second-flight runners took third with 40 points.

On the girls side, which had just one flight, the Outlaws were fourth with 100 points. Wallowa Valley was led by Iona McDonald who had a time of 24:02.2, good for 14th. Nevaeh James, in a time of 25:10, was 23rd. Maddie Nordtvedt was 31st in 25:27.9, Michalia Caine placed 36th in 26:52.4, and Isabella Brann took 41st in 27:17.6. Lannie Stonebrink rounded out the Outlaws in 45th in 27:44.3.

“I thought they ran OK, but we got a lot of work to do,” head coach Dan Moody said, “as always this time of year. (I’m) not up on the first of the year meets, but we had some kids that are first-time runners that ran. That’s a difficult course, and they ran OK.”

The Outlaws were on the course for the first time since the boys team claimed the state title in the spring season in April.

“They definitely have a target on their back, and they know it. They’re expected to win the title again this year,” Moody said, referencing an OSAA poll that had the Outlaws as the top-ranked team.

Wallowa Valley enters the fall without its top runner from that squad, as Henry Coughlan transferred to Crescent Valley, but Moody still likes what he has on the team.

“They’re going to have to work for it, with not having Henry on the team,” he said. “...We’ve got some newcomers, some first year guys, that I think, by district, will be dang tough.”

Wallowa Valley does have key returners from the title squad, including Knapp, Menton, Goodrich and Wolfe.

We’re still solid with those four guys,” Moody said. “Picked up Chase Homan from Joseph, and have an exchange student, Levi Ortswan, he’s learning to enjoy it. He won the JV race at Union pretty easily.”

On the girls side, Moody said Wallowa Valley has six runners that all are running at a similar clip. It’s a young squad, though, with just one senior in Stonebrink and one junior in Nordtvedt. The rest are either freshmen or sophomores.

“They’re all about the same time. We’ve got a lot of improvement to do,” he said. “We gotta bump up (our times) about two minutes.”

As usual, the girls will be competing in a challenging district that includes Union/Cove, Burns and Heppner.

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